Avoiding spam filters today is like building a house of cards, a few wrong moves can bring it all down.
Yeah, I hate to tell you but your email delivery is VERY fragile. There are quite a few things that can cause disaster in email delivery, losses in profits, subscribers and even your domain. Take a look at Lyris report finds your email getting junked. It is getting worse and not any better. Hotmail and Yahoo junked opted-in e-mails about 20% of the time.
Idiots who click the spam button
Most people on the Internet view “email marketers” as spammers. Just mention at a social gathering that you send any type of email and the first thing out so some dumbasses mouth will be “So you are a spammer….” or “So you send spam…”
Just look at what my friend on Digg just posted and read the comments, Optimize Email Delivery with Best Practice Strategies. That was me that said “RTFA first” and I had to hold back a bit. Flame somebody on Digg and they will go to your profile and bury all your articles, accuse you of spam and get your URL blocked.
This is the mind set of most people that read our emails. If you send email you must on some level be a spammer. This translates directly to clicking the spam button just because someone did not understand your email or they felt it crossed the line of information too being commercial.
Migrating to a new server
Moving to a new server with a new IP address can be a disaster. SpamCop (now used by Microsoft), Hotmail, Windows Live Mail and a number of others all sandbox your email for up to six months under a new email server IP address.
You cannot set up a new box and start sending to your recipients like you would form the location you newsletter was previously sent from.
Adding poorly configured MTA’s and bad Authentication
I cannot tell you how many times I have helped someone who is not getting much email delivered and it turns out that their DKIM or DomainKeys authentication is not working at the ISP in question.
They tell me “Oh yeah, we already set that up and it is working fine, it passed all the tests.”
Here is a little trick. Send an email from your MTA to a Yahoo address that you have access to. Now open the email and view the header. If it says “passed” under the DKIM or DK test, you are fine. However most times it is not passing Yahoo’s test even though it came back good in the online tests.
Contact you MTA provider and you may have to possibly update your DNS entry or your MTA’s milter.
ISPs suddenly start canning your email for no reason
So let’s say Yahoo starts holding your email in it’s queue for four hours for no reason. They have been doing that lately, allot.
You keep getting “not delivered” messages so you keep resending to Yahoo. And then you resend, AGAIN. You are only hurting your reputation when you try to resend to often. When you see odd things and weird 451 emails coming back from an ISP don’t keep resending out of frustration and possible profit loss.
Stop what you are doing and find out if the problem is on their end or yours. A simple Google search of the problem can usually tell you that others are having the same problem or not.
Not using double opt in for new subscribers
Double opt in prevents spam complaints. Spam complaints are the result of a recipient clicking the “this is spam button” and will get you blocked faster than anything else. A visitor cannot misspell their email address and send someone else your emails with double opt in.
Double opt in also saves your email reputation because you are not bouncing emails to bad addresses. Those same misspelled emails that get the spam button clicked can bounce when the recipient does not exist. ISPs keep track of bounced emails and the server it is sent from. The more bounces, the lower your email reputation score.
The very first time someone clicks the “this is spam” button on an email you sent without double opt in can get you banned by the receiving ISP. Your host may delete your domain and you are going to definitely get listed on RBLs (real time blacklists).
Sure you can triple your opt in rate by not using double opt in, but all it takes is a five or six spam complaints and you are history! NO site, NO domain, GONE. Forever.
The Bottom Line
If you do not make these simple mistakes you will go a long way in avoiding spam filters and deliver more email. At the same time you will not be destroying your email reputation that you have hopefully spent alot of time building.